The Vancouver Canadians were outslugged by the Eugene Emeralds 10-5 at Nat Bailey Stadium Thursday.
Canadians starter Yosver Zulueta could not find his groove as he walked Ghordy Santos on a 3-2 pitch to start the game. Zulueta continued to have control issues as he threw a wild pitch and plunked Hunter Bishop on his left knee. Casey Schmitt singled to left and the throw home hit Santos but did not affect his progress as he scored the game’s first run.
The Emeralds scored again in the second when Luis Toribio got a hold of one as he belted one over the C’s Diamond Vision scoreboard to begin the second inning.
Eugene continued to turn up the heat on Zulueta in the third when Bishop walked with one out, went to second on a wild pitch and stole third base. Patrick Bailey walked with two outs before Carter Aldrete singled to right to drive in Bishop. Toribio walked to load the bases and Najee Gaskins followed with a double down the right field line to score Bailey and Aldrete to give the Emeralds a 5-0 lead.
The Canadians got to Ryan Murphy for a run in the third inning after he sat down the first seven men he faced. Mack Mueller drew a one-out walk. He was forced out when Andrés Sosa hit into a 5-4 fielder’s choice but Emeralds second baseman Simon Whiteman‘s throwing error allowed Sosa to get to second base. Two wild pitches later, Sosa slid home safely with Vancouver’s first run.
Eugene had more offence in store in the fourth inning against Abdiel Mendoza. A leadoff home run by Santos off the left field porch sign made it 6-0 Emeralds. A Matos single to right, a Bishop single to center and a Schmitt walk loaded the bases. Another walk to Bailey brought Matos home for run number seven. Aldrete’s single to left scored Bishop and Toribio’s RBI groundout to second made it 9-1 Emeralds.
Leo Jiménez walked to begin the fourth and Tyler Keenan singled to center for Vancouver’s first hit of the game. A Trevor Schwecke fielder’s choice to short put runners on the corners with one out. Jiménez and Schwecke would come in to score when Miguel Hiraldo doubled down the left field corner to make it a 9-3 game. P.K. Morris banged a double off the right field wall to score Hiraldo to cut Eugene’s lead to five.
The Canadians chipped away in the fifth against Emeralds lefty Juan Sanchez. Garrett Spain and Davis Schneider started the frame by walking and Jiménez singled past a diving Aldrete at third to score Spain.
The Emeralds would cap off the scoring when Bishop took the second pitch of the game from Alex Nolan over the center field wall to begin the eighth.
Mueller appeared to have a ball glance off the flap of his batting helmet in the third but it was ruled a ball. That came just before his one out walk. Spain drew a two-out walk after Sosa scored but was left on base.
Sosa was shaken up by a foul tip by Whiteman in the fourth but was able to remain behind the plate. He threw out Matos trying to steal second in the fifth to erase a one-out single. Morris then followed by making a catch near the netting behind home plate to help Mendoza get out of the fifth.
Keenan gave a ball a ride to right-center after Jiménez’s RBI single in the fifth but Santos was able to run it down for the second out. Schneider tagged up to go to third but the inning ended when Schwecke hit into a 6-4-3 double play.
The C’s turned a 5-6-3 double play to end the sixth off the bat of Toribio thanks to an infield shift. That took care of a leadoff walk to Bailey issued by Mendoza who faced the minimum three batters.
A leadoff single to center by Sosa started the seventh against Em’s reliever Brooks Crawford but he would not get any further.
Spain made a nice catch at the warning track in center to retire Gaskins to begin the seventh. A two-out single by Santos was the only blemish for Mendoza in that frame.
Keenan nearly left the yard but settled for a standup double off the left field wall to begin the eighth. He left the game as he walked off the field gingerly. Hugo Cardona came in to pinch-run but he was stranded as Crawford retired the side. Crawford finished off the C’s with a three-up, three-down ninth inning.
Cardona replaced Keenan at third base to begin the top of the ninth and more defensive changes were needed after Nolan had a leg injury while warming up on the mound. Mueller moved to the bump from right field, Jiménez took over as shortstop after serving as the designated hitter and Schwecke moved from the six-spot to third base.
Jiménez was put to the test right away by spearing a sharp grounder from Whiteman on the backhand and Morris made the stretch at first base to complete the 6-3 defensive gem. Mueller got Santos to pop out to first and struck out Matos swinging for a 1-2-3 inning.
Keenan was the only Vancouver batter with two hits and was the first batter to put the ball in play against Murphy with a second inning groundout to second. That came in the midst of Murphy striking out six of the first seven men he faced.
Jiménez got aboard twice with a single and a walk and Spain had two bases on balls. Hiraldo, Morris and Sosa also put up a notch in the hit column as the C’s were 3-for-11 with runners in scoring position, leaving five men on.
Schneider saw his eight-game hitting streak come to an end but he did reach base with a fifth inning walk.
Zulueta was roughed up for five runs on four hits, four walks and a hit by pitch over three innings. He did strike out four but only half of his 80 pitches were strikes.
Mendoza saw the first six batter he faced reach base but soaked up four innings, allowing three runs on six hits and four walks while whiffing three. Nolan gave up a run on two hits with a walk and a strikeout in the eight.
The C’s and Em’s play two Friday with Ricky Tiedemann and Naswell Paulino set to start for Monty’s Mounties. The lefties will face Eugene right-handers Mason Black and Jake Wong. First pitch is at 1:05 p.m. on CanadiansBaseball.com and MiLB.TV.
In front of 5,209 fans and 511 dogs, Vancouver fell to 26-30 while Eugene upped their record at 33-22. Eugene’s magic number to clinch the first half Northwest League pennant and a berth in the league final is down to three.
Radar Gun Rundown
Zulueta had strikeouts at 97, 93, 85 and 84 miles per hour. He also clocked in at 80 and 99. Mendoza had whiffs at 77, 78 and 84 and was up to 93. Nolan had a punchout at 84 and was up to 93. Mueller had a strikeout at 86 and was around 85-87.